Tell us a little about what HMK (Hitmakuzz Productions) has been up to?
In the past year, I have been producing a hip- hop fusion album called UNORTHODOX with a collection of HMK artist from St. Louis, Houston and Chicago. UNORTHODOX can be described as a current version of the classic hip-hop that gave birth to the genre, old soul rhythm and blues, authentic house music vibe, splashes of rock with live electric and bass guitars throughout and comedic skits that gel and compliment the album. UNORTHODOX was recently completed, mixed and mastered and need-less-to-say we are all very pleased with the finished product and excited to share it with all those that appreciate and listen to super good music.
Tell us where HMK originated from, and who’s involved?
HMK started at Webster University while I was working on my Bachelors degree in Audio Production. The original “Hitmakuzz” were myself and my fraternity brother Latrelle Yancey. At that time, we would make beats in my college dorm room, write raps, and then go to the campus studio to record and mix using industry standard equipment. The following year, we did our first compilation album, “Issues”, which also doubled as my senior production project for my portfolio review. Since that time, I have produced several albums, and worked with countless artists. The HMK of today consists of KID (myself-producer/enigneer/DJ/lyricist), FNC (lyricist), Cam-B (producer/lyricist), #1 Kintinda (lyricist), Gaine Greene (lyricist/battle MC), MusikMakinMike (lyricist/artist), Streetz (lyricist), Renzo (lyricist), a board of directors, and an advisory counsel.
What makes HMK different?
What makes HMK different is that we are from 3 different cities: Chicago, St. Louis, and Houston. I have worked on developing a sound that will blend the native sounds of these cities, therefore giving our audience an exciting aural experience.
What is it like working with HMK…KID?
As the GM, I aim to make working with HMK an experience rooted in hard work, trust, respect, and perfection. I try to cultivate an environment in which creativity comes first followed immediately by your hustle. At HMK, we are all a family that supports each other, and strives to make each other better in our respective crafts. This actually comes easy to the majority of us, being that we actually are family and close friends. We’ve shared life’s ups and downs over the years, and on a personal tip, have always remained in contact beyond our music ventures. As far as being in the studio with myself, I bring years of degreed engineering experience and musical performance/composition ability.
Who has HMK worked with, and who would they love to work with in the near future?
As an engineer/producer, I have worked with Rick Ross, BMF, Ron Isley, David Banner, Lil Scrappy, St Lunatics, Chingy, Jibbs, Huey, Ebony Eyez, Stevie Stone, and a host of underground artists. HMK would love to collaborate with any and all talented artists with a passion for music regardless of the genre.
Is there a noticeable difference between working with an R&B star and a Hip Hop Star?
Definitely! There are completely different methods used when working with an R&B star vs a Hip-Hop Star. Starting with the selection of microphone, typically I use a bipolar pattern with R&B artists to capture more of the natural reverb in the room. I prefer not to use this technique with Hip-Hop artists so that I can get a grittier, rougher sound. Next, in my experience, R&B artists typically have one lead track, but we may record several leads to make sure that each phrase sounds perfect. This is often different from Hip Hop stars who may only record a verse once or twice.
I have found that HMK appeals to people from all walks of life. Regardless of race, age, or gender, we have received positive feedback from our music. Most recently, the college radio stations have been showing us a lot of love, but people who grew up on Run DMC, MC Lyte, and NWA appreciate our music as well. All in all, I would say our music caters to anyone with an affinity for ecletcic Hip-Hop, bass pounding beats, and witty lyrical wordplay.
What advice would you give to others who aspire to be an artist?
Never give up on your dreams. Hard work pays off in the long run, so stay focused. Also, study the game. Research your favorite artists, producers, and industry icons. There have been a lot of successful people in the industry, and more than likely, you will come across someone who has already gone through a struggle similar to your own. Understanding how they overcame their obstacles, can be a blueprint for your success.
Who’s your favorite male & female artist?
That’s a tough question because I listen to so much music! I would have to say, aside from HMK, Outkast and Lauryn Hill. Then again I could say Dr. Dre and Jill Scott…or maybe 2Pac and MC Lyte…I’m sorry, but I can’t narrow it down!
What advice would HMK give to those aspiring to be where you guys are?
Again, stay focused, motivated, and determined. You never know what the next day holds, so don’t give up on your dreams. Educate yourself on your craft. If you want to produce/engineer, go get your degree, not just a certificate. Make yourself valuable to your team, so that your team can have value. Most importantly, realize that it takes more than rappers and producers to build a successful label. You need marketing (s/o to T-Money), promotions, media experts, merchandising, photographers, etc. Or, you can just contact us and we will set you up with a complete package.
What are some fun little known facts about KID & HMK?
– KID is an Air Traffic Control Specialist at Midway Airport in Chicago
– FNC is an Environmental Scientist
– KID and FNC have been married for 3 years
– KID started playing the violin at the age of 8
– KID and the #1 Kintinda are brothers
– Gaine Greene and MusikMakinMike are brothers
– KID studied under the tutelage of Bill Porter (Renowned audio engineer)
– KID is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi
What haven’t I covered that you’d like the world to know about you?
At an early age, I worked with my uncle in the music industry. “Big Steve” was known throughout the rap industry as one of the leading promoters. I remember sitting in on conference calls, hosting artists as they came in town for promo tours, and doing a variety of street promotions for major record labels such as Death Row Records, Loud Records, Interscope Records, and Relativity Records just to name a few. When he passed away in 1999, my aunt gave me his platinum Death Row plaque for The Chronic, Above The Rim, Doggystyle, and Murder Was The Case; and his Wu-Tang Clan plaque for Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), which has served as motivation for me since then.
What is next on the agenda for HMK?
This week from July 25 -27, all of HMK will be in Chicago promoting the new album “Unorthodox”! We will be doing a bar crawl on Thursday night, there will be a private record release on Friday, and on Saturday from 7pm until, we will have our public record release at A Touch of the Past 947 Mannheim Rd, Bellwood, IL. We will have the new album on sale at a discounted price and would like to invite everyone to attend!
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